SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) — The Illinois Supreme Court reversed a man’s murder conviction and death sentence for the 2004 death of his teenage stepdaughter based on errors in the way DNA evidence was handled.
Although there was “significant evidence of guilt” to convict Laurence Lovejoy, “the linchpin of the state’s case was the DNA evidence,” the ruling states.
The state high court found that prosecutors gave defense attorneys key DNA evidence that was too late for them to hire their own experts, and that Judge Kathryn Creswell refused to delay the trial to allow that to happen.
A new trial was ordered for Lovejoy, who was sentenced to death in February 2007 following the death of his 16-year-old stepdaughter, Erin Justice.
The sophomore was beaten, poisoned, stabbed and drowned in her mother’s apartment.